TAMPA, Fla. — Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal in 2009, a verdict that elicited anguish and disbelief among supporters in a crowded courtroom and from other artists in his native Jamaica.
A federal jury deliberated for 11 hours over two days on the fate of Banton, who won a Grammy last week for best reggae album for his work entitled “Before the Dawn.” He was found guilty of three of four charges, and his attorney said he’s facing at least 15 years in prison.
The 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and the trial — his second over the drug accusations — was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked.
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